FDA Comment Period for Cigars Ending

NATO reminds retailers to participate, reveals what it told agency regarding tobacco flavors

LAKEVILLE, Minn. -- With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) July 25 deadline for public comment on potential new standards for premium cigars fast approaching, officials with the tobacco-retailing association NATO called on retailers to make their thoughts known and, in a separate matter, published what they told the agency with regard to flavors in tobacco products earlier this month.

Both the flavored-tobacco and the premium-cigar comment periods, called Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), were requests by the FDA for information, data and studies on those issues and were not actual, proposed regulation, NATO said. Rather, the agency is seeking information to determine whether a new regulation should be proposed in the future.

The procedure for submitting comments about premium cigars is the same as the ANPRM for nicotine levels in cigarettes, which closed July 16, and flavored tobacco products, which closed July 19.

Here are a few points about tobacco flavors that Lakeville, Minn.-based NATO submitted to the FDA:

  • The importance of consumer choice for flavored products, whether that be soft drinks, coffee, alcohol beverages or tobacco products.
  • The congressional limitation imposed on the FDA that prohibits the agency from banning an entire class of tobacco products; however, an across-the-board ban on flavors would, for all intents and purposes, prohibit the sale of pipe tobacco and many other categories of products, including certain cigars, electronic cigarettes, vapor products and hookah tobacco.
  • The FDA’s potential consideration of restricting or prohibiting the advertisement of flavored tobacco products is unconstitutional since the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects free speech, which includes commercial speech in the form of advertising.
  • The likelihood of a significant illicit market for menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco if the FDA mandates the elimination of flavors.

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